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Genetic discrimination in the workplace is illegal

On Behalf of | Jun 20, 2024 | Employment Discrimination

Genetic discrimination in the workplace is unlawful at the federal level in the U.S. This type of discrimination can affect hiring decisions, promotions, job assignments and other employment practices. And while it is a lesser-known kind of mistreatment than, say racial or religious discrimination, it is important for workers to understand their rights related to their genetic information regardless. 

Those who suffer genetic information discrimination are in a strong position to seek legal recourse due to the protections afforded to them via the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA) of 2008.

What is protected genetic information?

Legally-protected genetic information includes details about an applicant’s or a worker’s genetic testing results, the genetic tests of their family members (including embryos and fetuses), family medical history and any manifestation of a disease or medical disorder in family members. It also encompasses information about an individual’s or family member’s participation in genetic research.

Understanding genetic discrimination is important as this reality can have significant impacts on individuals’ careers and personal lives. For example, if a person has a family history of a genetic disorder, an employer might unjustly assume they will be less capable or more costly to insure and thus decide not to hire or promote them. Such assumptions are discriminatory and illegal under GINA.

In the event that an applicant or worker suspects that they are being mistreated in ways related to their protected genetic information, it’s important to document instances of discrimination, maintain records of the genetic information at issue and ascertain how an employer obtained it. At that point, it may be wise to seek personalized guidance in order to make informed decisions about taking legal action.